POINT PLEASANT — West Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce pointed out both the good and bad news for Mason County during his keynote speech at Thursday’s benefit and celebration for the Community Foundation of Mason County.
Woody Thrasher said he usually asks for the bad news first so the conversation can end on a positive note.
“M&G looks like it’s a very troubled entity,” he said. “Its been a fixture here for years and years and the mother company is in trouble. I just want you to know that we don’t have a solution but we’re ontop of it and we’re absolutely working to find people that might be interested in that facility. My understanding is its been a profitable facility. I’m optimistic we’re going to find buyers for that facility.”
Thrasher also said: “I really thought we had a shot to get the Toyota Mazda facility…we did not. We didn’t have sites that were ready to go. Toyota wanted to be under construction by October 2018. We have an exquisite site in the State of West Virginia in the Apple Grove facility. The good news is, it confirms what we are saying over and over again…we have to have sites that are ready to go.”
Thrasher then spoke about his office developing a certified site program to evaluate every potential site in the state for industrial purposes. The program will look at what needs to be developed at those specific sites, such as utilities, permitting and other infrastructure needs.
“We’re going to institute a program that is going to dramatically change the readiness we have for sites in West Virginia,” he said. “No one will benefit from that more than Mason County.”
Thrasher told those gathered that “West Virginia is a wonderful place but the truth is we have a number of problems that need to be addressed.”
Thrasher said West Virginia was the only state in the union that’s lost population for two straight decades.
“I think if we have jobs people would stay,” he explained.
Thrasher also spoke about throwing resources into developing the state’s tourism industry and how it has recently acquired the rights to the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” He said the state hired a “top notch consulting firm” and is working on re-branding the state and recreating the image people have of it, “both internally and externally.”
“That’s going to be unveiled one step at a time and will culminate in spring of 2018,” he said.
He also spoke about the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources’ new website and the ability to now make reservations at state parks online. He also touched upon developing forestry resources.
“West Virginia is an incredibly beautiful place to be and it needs to be a place where we can really have opportunities,” he said. “I think in a reasonable amount of time, we can turn this economy around.”
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.